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The Daily News of Los Angeles
LOS ANGELES — The International Olympic Committee's executive board on Friday recommended that the IOC take the unprecedented step of awarding both the 2024 and 2028 Summer Games this year, all but guaranteeing that Los Angeles will host a third Olympic Games in the next decade.
The full IOC membership is expected to approve next month the executive committee's recommendation for a joint 2024/2028 decision, setting up negotiations between the IOC and Los Angeles and Paris officials that are expected to result in Los Angeles agreeing to host the 2028 Games.
In a special meeting July 11-12 in Lausanne, IOC members will discuss and likely vote on a 2024/2028 plan that has been pushed by IOC President Thomas Bach as a way out of a bid city crisis that threatens the future of the Olympic Movement.
Describing Los Angeles and Paris as "great" and "enthusiastic" bid cities, Bach said the 2024/2028 plan "represents a golden opportunity for the Olympic Games and for the IOC."
"We want really is a win, win, win situation," Bach said. "That means for the two cities and for the IOC."
While the 2024 host city is not scheduled to be selected by the IOC until Sept. 13 in Lima, Peru, IOC leadership favors a deal in which Paris would be awarded the 2024 Games, with the world returning to Southern California four years later for a third Olympics in Los Angeles, according to international sports officials and consultants who have worked with the IOC and are familiar with the IOC's inner workings.
"We welcome the IOC Executive Board's decision to recognize two excellent bids from two of the world's greatest cities," Los Angeles 2024 bid Chairman Casey Wasserman and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a statement. "With no new permanent venues to build and unwavering public support, Los Angeles is an eternal Olympic city and ideal partner for the IOC.
"We look forward to sharing our unique story with the IOC membership in July and working together to offer the best path forward for our city and the Olympic Movement's future."
Bach said the IOC has "talked to the cities" about the 2024/2028 plan "but we did not negotiate." The special IOC meeting on the joint awarding proposal coincides with the IOC candidature city meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland. Both Los Angeles and Paris officials will make presentations to IOC members during the July meeting.
"If the IOC members are in agreement with the principle afterwards we shall speak and discuss and maybe negotiate with the candidate cities, and at the end of that procedure the IOC members will have an occasion to vote during the IOC session in Lima, Peru, in September," Bach said.
Paris officials have repeatedly dismissed the idea of hosting the 2028 Games, maintaining that the site for the Olympic Village will be available only in 2024.
"There is no doubt for the IOC that it makes sense to look at this situation and see if it's possible to have a double award," Paris bid co-chairman Tony Estanguet told reporters this week. "But at the same time we remain on the same line, saying our project has been built for 2024. We will not change this design because of whatever we read and we hear. We want the games for 2024. That's my mandate.
"We can't really consider 2028 at the moment."
Los Angeles officials, however, have been increasingly receptive in recent weeks to the possibility of waiting until 2028.
"To be blunt, LA 2024 has never been only about L.A. or 2024," Wasserman said. "Even when the issue of a dual award for the 2024 and 2028 games was initially raised, we didn't say it's 'L.A. first' or it's 'now or never' for L.A.; that sounds like an ultimatum. We could have used that strategy, but we didn't because we thought it was presumptuous to tell the IOC what to do and how to think. We're better partners than that. It has always been our contention that LA 2024 had to make as much sense for the Olympic Movement as it did for the people of L.A. And we've stuck to that premise."
Bach on Friday evaded a question that suggested the scenario of Paris in 2024 and Los Angeles in 2028 is already a done deal.
"I think both cities are open to being approached by the IOC after such a vote to discuss how to achieve a win, win, win situation," Bach said. "This is what I'm gathering from our conversations with the candidate cities."
Whether Los Angeles hosts in 2024 or 2028, the joint awarding plan is seen internationally and locally as a winning deal. An agreement would allow Garcetti, believed to have political aspirations beyond City Hall, to add landing the Olympic Games to his resume, helping to distinguish him in a deep talent pool of potential Democratic candidates for statewide and federal offices.
It would also give Los Angeles an unprecedented bargaining position in negotiations with the IOC.
"When there's a crisis, there's actually more leverage over the IOC," said Jules Boykoff, author of "Power Games: A Political History of the Olympics."
Some international sports officials and economists project that the price for asking Los Angeles or Paris to wait until 2028 could reach $3 billion for the IOC. The IOC will contribute nearly $1.5 billion to the 2024 host city, including $855 million from television revenue and $453.5 million from its TOP Sponsors program and corporate partners such as Coca-Cola, McDonald's and Visa.
Garcetti suggested the IOC could start funding youth sports programs in Southern California or underwrite the costs of running the local organizing committee for an additional four years. Others, however, argue that Los Angeles officials need to think much bigger in negotiations with the IOC.
"That seems to me to be really unambitious compared to what they got in the 1984 Olympics, basically privatizing the affair," Boykoff said. "It's pretty unambitious what they're (reportedly) asking for. The moment is much bigger than perhaps people within the organization realize given the demands, the exigency, the thrill of actually landing the Olympics kind of blinding people to the real opportunity in front of them, which is historic."
Bach, however, insisted the IOC is not ready to make major financial concessions to the 2028 host city.
"Quite frankly, I don't think that you need to reward somebody if you give somebody a present," Bach said. "You know for the city it would also be a safe bet. Then the city would get the right to host the Olympic Games without the risk of defeat in the election procedure. So again this would be a win, win situation. It would be a win for the candidate city and it would be a win for the IOC and this would put this city on an equal basis as the '24 city.
"We may have to consider in this discussion how we may have to adapt one or the other clause in the host city contract toward this situation because ... the city is funding itself for a long time. We are binding ourselves for a long time and this may have effect on some clauses of the host city contract and some conditions, but again it is not about saying 'here is amount for reward.' "
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